Omnichannel is the word of the moment. But what does it actually mean? For us, it’s about delivering a consistent brand experience across every single customer touchpoint. And that means making it easier for customers to shop.
Make things difficult and people won’t come back. And the same is true for staff – make their job easier and give them the tools to work more effectively and they’ll be more motivated, more engaged and ultimately more successful.
Video: See suppliers and partners discuss the priorities and strategies that will dominate retail in the coming months>
Of course, it’s easy to say – quite another matter to put into practice; there’s a gnawing fear that the pursuit of genuine omnichannel could result in a real omnishambles. Having a strategic partner who understands retail will help avoid that. And this is really where we think we come into our own. From consultancy to software, delivery to implementation we’re confident that retailers can come to us and we’ll be able to handle everything.
Justine Arthur, Head of Communications and Campaigns, BT Expedite
How do you deliver a seamless omni-channel experience, tailored to individual customers? It’s not about installing new technology for the sake of it, it’s about using the right blend of technology, social media and applications to tap into and take advantage of changing consumer trends and expectations.
See how a mix of in-store wi-fi, mobile payments, loyalty data and clienteling apps, combined with a single, real-time view of stock can help you improve the customer experience and ultimately sell more.
For a taste of how this is working in the real world, check out the award-winning Aurora Fashions ‘Anywhere, Everywhere’ initiative.
Posted by Jason Shorrock, Product Director, BT Expedite
All eyes might be on Hollywood for the Oscars this weekend, but those in the retail technology business know the really big prizes are dished out in June at the annual BT Retail Week Technology Awards. We’re really proud to be headline sponsors of the awards once again – it’s our fourth year and it gets bigger and better every time.
Why are the awards important?
The awards are run by Retail Week magazine and judged by a panel of leading retail experts. They promote and honour the achievements of the very best retail technology in the UK. The event also acknowledges those who have invested to stay ahead in an industry which has gone through some very tough times recently, as highlighted by a raft of high profile closures since the turn of the year.
Retailers are passionate about enabling technology to support future growth and there’s a pattern emerging. Those that thrive have really grasped the nettle of technological change – and embedded it in the way they do business. Retailers that have struggled tend to be those with outdated business models (often those made irrelevant by the stunning rise of the web) who are unable or unwilling to adopt new technology fast enough or, more importantly, don’t adopt the right technology for their business.
The solutions are out there. The biggest challenge is choosing where to invest.
The choice will often come down to whether to focus on customer-facing technology that drives an improved in-store or omni-channel experience, or to go the way of investing in a smarter business where efficiency of the operation and the supply chain takes precedence to bolster the bottom line. Success depends on finding areas to invest in that match your business needs. It’s not easy, and that’s why it’s important to highlight and celebrate those companies that are getting it right.
Video: Watch Jennifer Creevy, deputy editor of Retail week quiz me about the upcoming awards>
What’s new this year?
Retail is very fast-paced and technology even more so. Just a few years ago, e-commerce was still considered by some retailers to be a sideline. Now it’s central. And just as technology and consumer trends move on, the awards themselves have changed to reflect the new retail IT focus. For example, in terms of the way customers interact with retailers, we have a couple of new categories this year:
• Customer experience technology of the year
This has become a key battleground and technology has a central role to play in creating this new “retail theatre”.
• Insight solution of the year
Data and insight has always mattered to retailers. But in the digital age, it’s the speed of application that’s crucial – we need to be able to use what we learn about our customers and put it into action there and then.
The awards are free to enter but you need to be in it to win it. The deadline is 15 March. So have a look at the awards categories and get your entry in now: www.retailweektechnologyawards.com
I’ll be there on the night and I’ll hopefully get the chance to toast the winners and celebrate the best in the business with you.
Posted by Josh Pert, CEO, BT Expedite
Being a successful multi-channel retailer isn’t all about having a cool website with great EPOS integration. That helps, obviously, but we’re finding our customers paying equal attention to getting their supply chain systems in good shape to fulfil demand, wherever it may come from.
Here are a couple of recent examples that have kept our supply chain team very busy.
Upgrading enterprise systems is always nerve wracking. You have years of history, active business documents and you can’t do a pilot, meaning that the whole process is inevitably something of a big bang. At Monsoon Accessorise, our team worked a full weekend upgrade to our latest version of Mercatus which was fully working for start of business on Monday morning. Phew.
Since then, Monsoon has installed the first version of our new Merchandise Workbench which enables them to view all product activity, stock, sales orders, price, reservations and fulfilment from a single place.
Multi-channel can also make running a warehouse fiendishly complicated and our supply chain team have been working hard to help another long term customer, Austin Reed automate some heavily manual processes.
Until recently, Austin Reed Group (which also includes Viyella and Country Casuals) was running four logical warehouses within a single building. All pick, pack and dispatch for e-commerce orders was paper-based but a new business initiative, to fulfil web orders from store stock recycled back through the warehouse, was putting a lot of pressure on the processes.
To release the pressure, we’ve implemented Warehouse Operations, an RF based module of Mercatus, that enabled them to combine the four logical warehouses into a single one over one weekend. Paper has been replaced with hand held terminals and WOP now supports receiving, picking for stores and e-commerce, dispatch processing and label printing, put away processes, replenishment to the pick face from back up stock and task management. All this is fully auditable and warehouse throughput has increased significantly.